We owe it to our children and the future of our nation to keep the personal version of God in our homes. Either either teach them all versions of God in school or none. I will not move the proverbial needle a bit. I will stick with the First Amendment. There is a lot of wisdom in it.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings convened a group at the George W. Bush Institute last Thursday to discuss the role faith-based schools play in American cities. The group drew upon representatives from various traditions, including Catholic, Islamic and evangelical educators.
Later, Rawlings said one of the first big words he learned in Sunday school as a kid was “omniscient.” He said he went on to learn “omnipresent,” which led him to think that if God was indeed everywhere, then he is in schools, too. Rawlings, who identifies himself as a Democrat and Protestant, summed up his feelings this way:
“Surely we can create a new way to educate, to fund the best and the brightest in this country,” Rawlings said. “For me, it starts with God being omnipresent in lives across this country.”
So, here’s what I would like to hear you all discuss:
Are people of faith better off focusing their attention on education to schools that reflect their own tradition? Of course, I imagine most of you think that public schools are valuable. Many of us probably attended them.
But if you really want to make an education dent, especially getting students to discuss God and larger issues of moral consequence, couldn’t one argue that schools that represent the values of a particular faith tradition are the better place to start?
Certainly, Catholic schools have produced strong results. Speaking at the Bush Institute conference, Father Tim Scully of Notre Dame claimed that 99 percent of students in Catholic high schools graduate. Eighty-five percent of those graduates, he said, attend college. And Latino and African-American students who attend Catholic school are two-and-a-half times more likely to graduate from college.
What do you think? Where should people of faith put their focus on education, especially in our big cities? How would you try to move the needle, as the expression goes?
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
Making an “education dent” is not merely about academics. It also is about producing all-round kids: academically, socially, religiously and culturally Kids who would grow up to be a part of society and not apart from it in their outlook.
However, I have always envied those kids who went to the Catholic schools for the discipline they received from superbly run systems. As an adult and before we had our children, I wanted to send my kids to Mormon schools for the cohesive family values they teach.
Making decisions for our kids to go to school was a worthwhile exercise. We seriously debated about sending them to the public school or private school, day care or private care. The strongest point in favor of public school was raising them in an environment that would familiarize them with the real world they were going to be a part of when they grew up.
It would be a norm to see people of different faiths, races and ethnicities working together, marrying each other, going to plays, watching football games, watching their kid’s soccer games, and even the places of worship!
Thank God, both my kids were not raised with an ounce of bigotry. If they decide to run for a public office, they will have it easy, as they are comfortable with every race, faith, ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation. They were well-oriented with my home and work. Don’t we want our leaders to represent every member of their constituency? If we do, we need to prepare them for that.
My grade school social studies book had a few pages that gave a summary of each religion and its fountainhead. As a kid I understood that there were as many faiths as the candy colors I could get, especially the police candy.
We owe it to our children and the future of our nation to keep the personal version of God in our homes. Either either teach them all versions of God in school or none.
I will not move the needle a bit. I will stick with the First Amendment. There is a lot of wisdom in it.
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.